Topic: Conflicts and synergies between individuality and collective behavior
Cells live in communities where they interact with each other and their environment. By coordinating individuals, such interactions often result in collective behavior that emerges on scales larger than the individuals that are beneficial to the population. At the same time, populations of individuals, even isogenicones, display phenotypic heterogeneity, which diversifies individual behavior and enhances the resilience of the population in unexpected situations. This raises a dilemma: although individuality provides advantages, it also tends to reduce coordination. I will report on our recent experimental and theoretical efforts that use bacterial chemotaxis as model system to understand, the origin of individual cellular behavior and performance, and how populations of cells reconciliate individuality with group behavior.
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant R01GM106189, the AllenDistinguished Investigator Program (grant 11562) through The Paul G. AllenFrontiers Group, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation grant on Complexity.